Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm Enrolling In Daycare

I love my children so much that I've decided to enroll in their daycare so as to be with them every minute of the day.  Granted, I could simply keep them home from daycare and still have the quality time without the cost.  However, going to daycare would be so much more fun.  The benefits of this approach include new friends, new toys, and frequent educational activities. The alphabet never gets old and my readers know how much I love words.

My proposal will include a request for equal participation in snacks, naps, and outdoor play. I share well and I'm potty trained. I'll also need a desk with high-speed internet access and good cell phone reception so that I could maintain a work-from-daycare kinda job so as to pay my way through childcare. I would also blog about my experiences there.

I wonder if my kids would eventually ask me to leave.  They might tire of my constant need for their hugs and positive feedback. I might even be shunned by the entire daycare population. What if I was actually banished from the kids' table? This proposal needs work. In the meantime, I'll hang with my adult peers with whom I'll continue to work on language development, sharing with others, and overall good behavior. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Dear Tyler,

Please accept this note written with genuine sincerity.  I always knew that we were meant to be friends, however your recent displays of affection have overwhelmed me with gratitude.  

I will never forget that when we first met, you saw my heart.  However, your interest in me has only increased since I broke an arm and occasionally look like the letter J or a deformed P. When I come to you as a tear drop, you are kind enough not to draw attention to it when others are around. And you seemed extremely happy to see me when I came to you after they dumped chocolate all over me and tossed me in a bag with a bunch of rejects. I'll never forget your uncontrollable expressions of joy.

I'm damaged goods. I'm sometimes called a "second".  I've even been labeled "hurt", which truly reflects how I'm feeling these days.  Even when things seem to be going well, I'm almost always removed from my peer group and deemed worthless.  Yet, you continue to devour my imperfections.  You light up when I'm in the room and you savor every moment we have together.  Thanks again. You're such a sweet-tooth.

Yours Truly,
"Hurt" Chocolate Covered Pretzels
p.s. I won't tell anyone about our late night rendezvous in the kitchen. ;)

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Vote To Eliminate The Penny (and Partial Penny)

After putting gas in my car, I realized that I didn't have enough cash to pay for it.  Thankfully, another person in line gave me the $.009 that I needed.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It Hurts To Tumble Dry

My gloves were getting pretty dirty.  After a "wash in cold water" as instructed by it's label, I then decided to "lay flat to dry".  Feeling silly with the laundry room floor under me and wet gloves on my hands, I stared at the ceiling thanking my lucky stars that I bought such a "cool iron" recently.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Just Don't Call Him "Shrimp"

Inmate #1:  What are you in for?

Inmate #2:  Stealing shrimp...

Inmate #1:  Haaahahahahaaaaaaa. Really? Can I call you Bubba Gump? 
HEY GUYS, this guy's in for stealing shr-

Inmate #2:  -and first-degree murder.
Inmate #1:  Oh.

Idea provided by: http://www.boston.com/news/odd/articles/2009/03/24/nh_police_net_alleged_shrimp_shoplifter/ 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My Fear of Popsicles

The past couple weeks have been very busy in my household. I wish I could tell you that we were doing something amazing like going to work or eating a full meal, but instead my family and I have been fighting a stomach bug. Please don't be concerned; I won't be sharing these details with you.

Instead I will tell you that on top of this year's flu, I was the grand prize winner of a bonus medical issue. I have developed an allergy to the cold weather. My mind and body have given up their fight against shoveling snow.  College in upstate New York and post-graduate life in Boston have finally taken their toll.  The winters aren't that bad, but apparently I belong somewhere warmer.

My skin, as messenger for the brain, has sent me a clear message: We're done. Instead of leaving me a nice little post-it note on the fridge, Skin chose another medium.  Hives.

When these itchy red bumps appeared all over my body early last week, I took 10 minutes online to become a dermatologist. With my honorary Google degree, I quickly self-diagnosed myself as having "cold hives".  

Cold hives are actually a very serious condition that are often the symptom of a more serious disease or develop on their own without known causes.  Therefore, I am not here to make humor out of a very uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing skin condition.  I have no intentions to offend anyone or receive hate mail.  In fact, if this were true I would need to stop writing this and instead write myself a really mean nasty email because I'm wicked uncomfortable.  In fact, I have also decided that the cold hives are the beginning of the end so how DARE I WRITE THIS BLOG POST?!?!?!?! Ok, so I digress.

The hives are induced by cold temperatures.  Walking outside in cold weather has resulted in a major breakout. My morning meeting at work was a new experience. Bare feet on my cold kitchen floor became very uncomfortable as I got ready for work. Washing dishes with luke warm water. Hives. Looking for dinner in the freezer. Just not worth it. And I got hives.  

However I share this story because in keeping with the theme of this blog, humor still presented itself to me when I was experiencing the most frustration and discomfort. While chatting with my wife one cold night about the day's events, I started to tease my wife about something unrelated. To get a laugh from her when one didn't come forth fast enough, I moved as if to tickle her.

Faster than you could say Woogie she yelled, "Don't do that or I'll open the front door!" This stopped my dead in my tracks and the teasing stopped immediately. 

As part of my self-diagnosis, I did what my online medical training prepared me for. I performed an ice cube test, which involves self-torture to prove a point already well made.  I'm looking forward to a doctor's visit later this week so that I can actually make the point to a fellow medical professional.  I probably should have taken a picture of the first test results, but I wasn't really thinking clearly while itching the hell out of an ice-cube size welt on my arm.

I have been able to manage the hives.  This requires wearing a hat and gloves outdoors more often, socks on the kitchen floor, and an extra layer at all times.  But, I'm occasionally caught off guard.  For example, this morning droplets of cold water must have rolled down each arm while shaving, resulting in matching streaks-of-fiery-itch. Later in the morning, I grabbed a carton of cold milk from the fridge. What was I thinking?!?

Until I learn more about these cold hives and their cause, please be nice to me and send me warm thoughts.  But if you really want to get my attention, attack me with a popsicle.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Slow-Talker Fast-Typer

In the checkout line at Toys R Us today, we were greeted by a pimple-faced teenager.  He spoke very slowly and I thought it would take forever to get through the Hello's and HowAreYou's. He also took his time asking if we wanted to open a credit card to get 10% off.  

But, after carefully articulating the question "Would you mind giving me your phone number?", this slow-talker typed with lightening speed.  When he took the credit card number, he typed it with one hand faster than a world champion speed typer.  It was amazing and I theorized that he has needed to develop the ability to perform other non-speaking tasks faster than the average person simply to make up for lost time.  He might actually be a robot, which is a theory that piques my interest but might ultimately result in a decrease in this blog's followers. 

I can't help but wonder where else he compensates for slow-talking. Does he eat fast, write fast, or wash dishes fast?  If Flash's only speedy skill is typing, then he needs a new career.  Perhaps he'll write this blog if I were to dictate, because I have a lot to say.  But the rules would be clear.  I would explain, "I talk. You type. Go."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Being Sick Isn't Funny At All

Which is why I haven't written much this week. I'm on the mend, so hope to be back soon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Study Shows That Cheerios Are Eaten By People With Hair

My box of Frosted Cheerios has a coupon for a haircut.  Well, it's about time. For years, I've been saying that cereal companies and hair salons should get together and do some co-marketing.  Ok, so I'm being somewhat facetious.  

Actually, I find it quite humorous.  What in the world do these two have in common? Perhaps the Chief Cheerio Officer married the Chief Executive Hairstylist at their respective companies and decided to mix business with pleasure?  

I hope that these particular hair salons are serving up Cheerios. That would only be fair. I would love a bowl of cereal while I wait.  I just wouldn't want any cut hairs flying into my bowl. This concept might need further development. 
Well, this marketing campaign certainly isn't working on this follicle-challenged Cheerio-eater. However, I suddenly have this urge to get the little hair that I have Frosted.

Monday, March 16, 2009

When A Sign Resigns

At work, there's a floor-to-ceiling whiteboard in the conference room.  The whiteboard is the wall and the wall is the whiteboard. For anyone who ever wanted to write on the wall (without getting a timeout by their parents), here is their chance. 

Attached to the wall itself, high up and near to the ceiling, there is a sign stating:

"This wall will be cleaned every Monday morning at 9am."

As long as that sign is still posted on the wall itself, the facilities employee responsible for cleaning that wall will never have a perfect performance review. Will they?  I guess there's always room for improvement.  Now, will someone get that guy a ladder?

This gave me a great idea.  For fun, make a sign that simply reads in large bold letters on bright paper: "Remove This Sign" or "Don't Remove This Sign". Removal of either sign will be done with some uncertainty. Make hundreds and post them all over your workplace and watch...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I'm Building An Addition Onto My House

to store the Family Size box of Honeycomb cereal I just bought.  It's being delivered between 10 and 2 next Wednesday.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I Bark With Great Enthusiasm

I bark with great enthusiasm and I have a ferocious meow. My cow moo is of extremely high quality and done with great commitment. And my snake Ssssssss'es would make even my childhood speech therapist proud. That's because I'm a Dad.  

A Dad's 200% effort towards any parent-child activity can result in behavior outrageous enough to rival similar behavior demonstrated (as witnessed by third parties) during his own college drinking days.  In my case, I'm sure that there were some late night and early morning barks, meows, and hisses, but they were most likely without as much clarity and conviction.  I can at least verify that I once participated in a moo'ing contest so embarrassing that even the winners were left feeling defeated.

If Daddy Spectator were a real magazine, I would probably get 96 points and a tip that "my dog barks are best paired with tickle fingers".  This type of confidence can only be demonstrated by one type of individual.

I am Tickle Dog.  Like many parents, I have found the secret to making my children squeal with laughter at the simple uttering of a word. Or in my case, a dog bark. Tickle Dog crawls on his aging hands and knees, barking like he's never barked before.  When he finds a little kid, Tickle Dog initiates a tickling, barking, and kissing frenzy.  But, Tickle Dog is easy to escape from.  He doesn't want his victims to kick him in the jaw again. Tickle Dog has a short learning curve. Besides, he has another little kid to find once he's done with the last one.

Recently, there have been requests for Tickle Dog and I happily oblige.  In mid-tickle, I often get a request for Tickle Cat at which time I lash out on my victims with a flurry of mad meows, tickles, and kisses.  This activity is good until Tickle Dog or Tickle Cat, tired and sore, falls down on the ground and does his best Sleeping Dog or Sleeping Cat imitation.  

A few days ago, I was Tickle Dog followed by Tickle Cat.  I then received requests, spaced apart by a few minutes, for Tickle Cow and Tickle Snake.  After enough hissing to make my numb tongue (which is not a typo but rather how it would have sounded if I tried to say it at the time), my son yelled "now do Tickle Parent!"

Tickle Parent?  I was stumped.  Here I was, a Tickle Parent in the flesh and a darn good one, but I stopped dead in my slither.  I thought to myself, "How do I-... But, I'm already a-...What does a-...". Isn't a Tickle Dog, by definition, a Tickle Parent? I guess it's not if there really is a dog out there that tickles little kids.  What would their Tickle Parent look like? I digress.

For a moment, I considered how well tickles and kisses would combine with firm parental statements such as "You will have a timeout if you don't take your pancakes off of the wall" or "We share the 'Yay'".  However, I decided that these conflicting messages could potentially cause lifelong issues.  A strong psychological association between discipline, pancakes, tickling, and kissing could result in some really awkward circumstances later in life.

So, after a long pause, I debuted as Tickle Parent.  I did what comes as naturally to a parent as a meow comes to a cat and a moo to a cow.

I stood up and, with great enthusiasm, yelled "I Love You! I Love You!" and attacked with tickles and kisses. It was the proud role of Tickle Parent that kept me from collapsing into a Sleeping Parent position.  Instead, after a very long stretch of playing Tickle Parent, I was able to invoke Sleeping Kids.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Medicine For Kids Living a Double Life

Like every medicine, Children's Benadryl Allergy medicine has it's warnings clearly labeled on the box.  I read it carefully this evening as I considered waking my daughter (age 2) to give it to her to treat alleged hives.  Two warnings seem to contradict themselves, and they are as follows:
  • Marked drowsiness may occur.
  • Excitability may occur.
I'm pretty certain that the above statements contradict themselves.  So which is it?  Is it an excited drowsy experience or a drowsy excited one?  Regardless, it's clearly going to be marked.

I will also add that the Children's Benadryl warnings suggests that "when using this product":
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks.
  • Be careful when driving a vehicle or operating machinery.
In case you are wondering, I decided not to wake my daughter to give her the medicine.  She had just arrived home from a long day at the monster truck rally where she was competing in the Under-6 category (booster seats and modified brake and gas pedals are standard), but lost because of her alcohol consumption.  People thought that she was on Children's Benadryl because of her marked drowsy excitability, when in fact she was simply a drunk toddler.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I'm Busy Removing Dried Goods From the Fridge

While my better half is out of town, I'll be quite busy.  I will write when I can, so please keep checking in.  Oh...and now's a great time to de-lurk and say hi.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Calling For Intestinal Fortitude

I'm up late tonight, because I'm preparing a presentation.  I'm part of a "task force", which is a high-powered force of taskers.  If I work with you, please don't get me wrong; I love being on the task force.  However after a couple of hours working with Powerpoint, I'm feeling a bit punchy and have decided that "task force" is a strange phrase that makes me laugh heartily. Not really, but I wanted to use the word heartily today and I was running out of time.  

The 'task' in 'task force' refers to the act of actually being part of the task force itself.  It's a bit circular, in my opinion.  Therefore, the 'force' can only describe what someone did to me to get me involved.

Okay, so I do realize that 'force' is a name given to the team to enable them to do great things with tasks.  It's often given in place of other resources, such as additional equipment, staffing, or coffee.  Instead, we are expected to join our colleagues and continue to remind ourselves that we are a FORCE!  A force with a TASK!  

In fact, a synonym for 'task' is 'calling' and a synonym for the relevant meaning of 'force' is 'intestinal fortitude'.  Therefore, I will for now on refer to a task force as a "Calling for Intestinal Fortitude".  In other words, we'll order lunch for every meeting.

On a separate note I wanted to mention that when my wife is traveling soon, I plan to remove half of the refrigerator's contents until about an hour before her return.  Why? Because there's beer back there. I just know it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Please, Keep Your Feet Off Of The Foot Rest

Whenever we have company, I'm reminded that we have an unusual rule in our house.  It is best introduced with the statement often heard in our living room: "Keep your feet off of the ottoman!" I typically use that specific phrase to lighten the mood around what is a very serious toddler crime.

A couple years ago, we purchased a long red ottoman.  It was brought to our home as an alternative to a coffee table.  It's cushion top and corners are soft and we would never have to worry about trips to the emergency room with a toddler who did a face-plant on a wooden or glass tabletop. To keep it clean, we vacuum it. 

This particular ottoman opens to reveal a top-secret storage compartment, which is currently empty. I occasionally look in there to see what the kids have stored, but it seems that they don't go in there much. I lost my patience once and asked the kids if they had seen it. I'm not positive, but I think my son told me it was in there. I was afraid to look.

The table is not designed for parental dining and is too cushy even for the occasional coffee cup. However, the kids have come to learn that it is a table for sippy cups, kids plates and bowls, and toys.  They also know that if the kids plates and bowls tip over, we will vacuum it later. They have also learned that they are not to put their feet on the table. This includes standing on the table, laying on the table, dancing on the table, or jumping onto the table.  

It's only when we have company that we remember that our table was designed for feet.  Other kids (and some parents) can't help but put their feet on the foot rest.  And that's completely understandable.  Which is why, I realize how confused our kids must be about some of our rules.  Just to illustrate their disappointment with the conflicting messages, they decided to open it today and climb into the top-secret storage compartment. As a result, our new house rule is "Do not store your sibling in the ottoman."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I Took the Cake and Liked It

I just discovered Edy's "Take the Cake" ice cream. It seems perfect for the lazy party-goer.  Why bother with cake and ice cream when they can be one and the same?  And why even pretend that you want an ice cream cake when all you really want is cake ice cream? 

I love "Take the Cake".  In fact, if all of my food could be successfully processed into a delicious ice cream flavor, my life goal to eat ice cream at every meal would become a reality.  But it will have to remain a dream, because I suspect that an enjoyable steak and cheese ice cream will remain in R&D for many more years.  Although Jones Soda, the makers of Turkey & Gravy soda and Green Bean Casserole soda, would say that nothing is impossible. 

In trying to find a picture of "Take the Cake" ice cream, all I could find was Edy's nutritional information.  I was relieved to see that tapioca maltodextrin is in there but it's the Red #3, Yellow #5, Blue #1, and Red #40 that really say quality.  Well, at least they say party.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Blinking Has Ruined My Career As An Eye Model

I am often complimented on my bright blue eyes and long eyelashes. In light of the constant pressure they endure, albeit intra-ocular, I think that they could handle the tough criticism which is standard in the modeling industry. However I always thought that my biggest issue would be blinking. To the eye model, isn't that the equivalent of a runway model covering themselves in a flesh-colored blanket every 5 seconds only to suddenly reappear covered in tears? Wouldn't it be equally damaging to a hand model's career if they tucked their hands in their armpits throughout a shoot? However, it unfortunately wouldn't be tears covering this poor model's hands.  

Okay, so my metaphor examples are starting to fall apart, but the issue is still the same. I'm clearly not cut out for eye modeling. Blinking has ruined my eye modeling career before I even started.

My Acting Debut as "The Asteroid"

I love the Jimmy Dean commercials in which a cheery guy, dressed up in a yellow sun costume, takes himself very seriously when talking to his family and friends, The Moon and The Rainbow, about eating a good breakfast.  As he figures it, who can complain about not having time for breakfast when he himself has to illuminate the entire eastern seaboard before, well um....before he himself (ahem) rises.  All racy comments about this aside, his argument seems a bit flawed given that he's always illuminating someplace, no?  

In addition to this, I can't help but wonder what the sunny guy dresses up as at Halloween.  The only thing I can guess is that he, The Moon, and The Rainbow have a really awkward moment at the office when they quickly trade outfits in the office supply closet.  Despite the uncomfortableness of this get together, I suspect it would always go smoothly.  That is, unless The Rain shows up unexpectedly as it sometimes does.

I have considered auditioning for the role of 'Asteroid' on Jimmy Dean's commercials. I don't have any acting skills, but I hope that the casting director would appreciate my creativity.  As part of my efforts to truly embrace the role, I would miss the audition completely by hurtling past the studio "Like a Rock" in a Chevy truck at high speeds.  I might even get a dozen or so of my unemployed non-actor friends to rent Chevy trucks and help me simulate an asteroid field in the same way but en masse.

And if I didn't get the Jimmy Dean gig, I would audition for a role in the new Prudential logo.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gourmet Pub Is An Oxymoron

Thanks to a coworker for giving me the idea of a bar that has special Hoppy Hour specials during which it serves up pints of IPA with Kangaroo Burgers. Or Grasshopper cocktails with deep-fried Rabbit. 

*Ok so it's a bad pun but it made me laugh and this is my blog, peeps!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

McNugget Meltdown

I'm glad I turned on the news this evening while driving home, because otherwise I would have missed the breaking news story about the woman who called 911 when McDonald's ran out of chicken nuggets.  

Why is this woman in trouble?  It truly is a crime for McDonald's to have a nugget shortage. What happened to the benefits normally gained from "economies of scale" and "global logistics" when they can't get some over-processed chicken chunks to the customers when the customers most desperately need them?  They should have at least rolled something up in flour, deep-fried it with their famous fries, and served 'em up hot!  Anything they could find, as long as it fell into the very broad 'nugget' category.  But no. Instead they humiliated this woman by denying her right to chicken nuggets on demand. And then they called the cops on her.  Oh wait. I guess she called the cops on herself, didn't she?

I think that the woman did the right thing and the cops are over-reacting to her use of 911. Besides, she probably would have called even if the nuggets were in stock. Have you ever really looked closely at one of those things?

This story reminded me of something that happened to me once.  It's a bit tangential, but in my brain it's still on the same plane of absurdity.  I once worked next to a large supermarket that also had a very popular deli contained within.  Besides having a lot of prepared meals (including chicken nuggets), they were also staffed to make sandwiches to order.  

On one particular day, I ordered a sandwich from the menu.  When asked what condiments I wanted, I said mustard.  The store employee promptly informed me that they were all out of mustard.

From where I was standing, I could (and did) lean backwards far enough to see the supermarket aisles over which signs clearly stated their contents.  Aisle 4 read "Condiments".   I reminded the deli dude that he was in a supermarket, you know, where they sell food.  He told me that they weren't allowed to simply get mustard from Aisle 4. It's not that easy, he said. Huh?

Okay, so I realize that he probably did not have the authority, means, or self-confidence to simply pluck supplies off the shelf.  Even in an emergency like this.  But, I probably could have figured out how to make it happen faster than he could. I was pretty annoyed and made it clear that my sandwich was incomplete thanks to corporate protocol.  

Now I realize that I should have called 911.

Monday, March 2, 2009

No Stupid Small-Talking Week

I saw a story online and was inspired to adapt the text to something that I feel strongly about. The omissions from the original text have been striked out and my additions are in bold.

LOS ANGELES ANYWHERE NEAR TYLER—Pay no attention to that eerie silence in near the nation's most populous county  unpopular person this week; it will simply be the sound of 10 million people not cussing participating in useless small talking.

At least that's the result
McKay Hatch Tyler is hoping for once his campaign to clear the air is recognized by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors all four people reading this.

On Tuesday,
the board Tyler is scheduled to issue a proclamation by Supervisor Michael Antonovich himself making the first week in March No Cussing Week No Stupid Small Talking Week.

That would mean no
blue language from the Mojave desert, where it gets hot as $&# in the summer, to the Pacific Ocean, where on a winter's day it can get colder and nastier than %$#! useless small talk between people that don't know what else to say so instead they waste oxygen with useless exchanges like this:

Small Talker #1: How are you?
Small Talker #2: Good. Thanks. How are you?
Small Talker #1: Good. Thanks.
(What is the point of this unless there is more discussion that follows?)

Small Talker #1: How are you?
Small Talker #2: It's Monday. (insert faked laughter)
Small Talker #1: Yeah. (insert more fake laughter)
(Change Monday to Friday, add more enthusiasm, and you have more wasted oxygen but at the other end of the week).

Small Talker #1: Still snowing out there?
Small Talker #2: Nope.
(Change Nope to Yep and add useless chatter about how you can't wait for Spring to come).

Small Talker #1: How are you?
Small Talker #2 (with fake look of seriousness on face): Busy. Really Busy.
Small Talker #1: But busy is good, right?
Small Talker #2: Yes, your right, your right. Busy is good.
(You are both busy talking about nothing).

Small Talker #1: Nice to meet you. How are you?
Small Talker #2 Good, but surprised that you are shaking my hand when I have this horrible skin condition.

Not that
15-year-old Hatch
36-year old Tyler expects complete compliance. When his No Cussing Club No Stupid Small Talking meets at South Pasadena High School in a cluttered storage closet at a local Denny's "Restaurant" on Wednesdays it's not unusual for a nonmember to throw open the door and fire off a torrent of four-letter words. He's also been the target of organized harassment by pro-cussers pro-small-talkers.

Antonovich's county
Tyler's motion carries no penalties.

"But it's a good reminder for all of us, not just young people but everybody, to be respectful to one another and watch the words we use," said the supervisor's spokesman,
Tony Bell Mr. Paid to Not Stupid Small Talking.

The county isn't the first entity to try to put the lid on
swearing . Hatch's hometown of South Pasadena
Denny's declared itself a cuss-free stupid small talk-free zone for a week last March, and two years ago a high school in Canada threatened to suspend repeat cussers stupid small talkers.

Tyler has lofty goals.

"Next year I want to try to get California to have a
stupid small talk-free week. And then, who knows, maybe worldwide," said the 10th grader middle aged dude, who believes if people treat each other with more civility they can better work together to solve bigger problems.

He said his campaign began to form about the time he hit seventh grade when he noticed his friends beginning to
swear wasting their childhoods participating in stupid small talking, something his family didn't allow.

He formed the
No Cussing
No Stupid Small Talking Club and invited others to join. Soon the group had a Web site, bright orange T-shirts, a hip hop theme song and inquiries from all over from people interested in joining. He estimates 20,000 people have formed similar clubs.

"It's not about forcing anyone to stop, just to bring awareness," he says of the movement. "If you can do a week without
stupid small talking, maybe you can do two weeks. And then maybe a month."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Why Not Invent Nintendo Wii for Cats?

At brunch with friends this morning, the conversation turned to pets.  I have written about my old cat Hoolie once before and I again found myself with fond and humorous memories of her.

Hoolie was part Maine Coon.  To be honest, I can't remember if this was an estimation once made by a veterinarian or if it was fiction that I created to explain her large size.  The reality is that Hoolie was big-boned and extremely hairy, but she also had an enormous gut. Years later, it was determined by my wife that she was an emotional eater; eating when she was happy, sad, or mad, all of which were emotions relating to me and our relationship.  Had this been explained to me years earlier, my social life would have taken a nose dive if I had told anyone this.  But instead, my prospects for great social prosperity suffered for reasons explained below.

When I moved to Boston, I made an appointment at a nearby veterinarian's office to have Hoolie checked out for the first time in a few years.  After discussing some of her dental issues (the cat's not the vet's) and some circular arguments about whether or not cats should have canine teeth, the vet suddenly got very serious.  He showed me a diagram showing the spectrum of feline weight categories and with an accusatory finger pointed the leading edge of the red zone of cat fatness.  My cat was overweight and it was dangerous for her health.  

I wasn't upset about this, for I knew that she had a weight problem and that her health was at risk.  After a long-winded explanation of the potential health outcomes for my cat, the doctor gave us a prescription that I didn't expect: 20 minutes of daily exercise.

I suddenly had a vision of me walking my cat down the streets of Boston with a hot pink leash and cubic-zirconium studded-collar.  She would need good walking shoes and some spandex, too.

I don't remember the exact words, but the conversation that followed went something like this:

While imagining my self-respect and social life bursting into flames, I asked "How exactly do I exercise my cat for 20 minutes a day?"

"With an interactive toy," replied the well-trained doctor.

"An interactive toy?" I asked now curious about what irresistible device will have my cat sweating with heart racing while I'm at work.

"Yes, a toy that will require involvement from both of you."

"Huh? Like what?" I mumbled now imagining the smell of smoking ashes that were once my social life and potential to ever date again.

"Oh. Like a feather toy.  You know, the kind that you wave around and tease your cat with."

"Yes, I do know about the feather toys but I have yet to catch the prerequisite bird.  Besides, I can barely find 20 minutes of exercise for myself.  How will I find time to exercise my cat?"

Without a clear answer to my last question, I stopped at the pet store on the way home and invested in a feather toy for my cat and I.  It was days later, while waving the feather around and watching Hoolie swing and miss in the same manner I usually do with a tetherball, that I realized that I was saving my cat's life in spite of my own.  That's love.

After moving out of the area for a couple years before moving back, we took Hoolie to the same vet for another checkup.  Only this time, we brought our newborn baby with us.  With the family in the waiting room, I experienced deja vu in the examining room with Hoolie and the vet.  While listening to the lecture from the vet about weight, I couldn't help but think that it was getting late and almost time for my son's nap.  

The vet didn't dare propose exercise again, but instead prescribed a restricted and low-fat diet. Knowing that my cat would cry through the night, I told him that it would be an impossible transition.  At this point, my son was screaming his head off in the waiting room, most likely because he was tired and hungry.  I told the doctor that I had to go, but he insisted that I commit to reducing my cat's intake by what I later calculated to be about 50%.  

I now had a vision of my son finally sleeping through the night while I was still sleep-deprived because my cat was hungry.  It's not that the love was gone, but Hoolie was enjoying her life and the disappearing food proposal was going to ruin the entire household's path towards peaceful nights.

I couldn't make the commitment requested by the doctor and we left to take my fat cat and sleepy baby home.

In the end, Hoolie did pass away from congestive heart failure.  I still believe that changing her diet would have done very little to impact her overall weight so late in life.  Instead, I prefer to remember days past when I would tease her with a feather toy and she would run and jump while barely leaving the ground.  

So, now I can't help but wonder how wonderful it would be if someone would buy an interactive toy and wave it in front of me.  I'm not nearly as overweight as my cat and I'm part Maine Coon by the way, but I still think that I could use a little incentive like this to get in shape.  I don't know...it could be something I really wanted like an Iphone.  It would only take 20 minutes a day and it would improve my overall health.  However I should warn you that I would eventually find the IPhone when nobody was looking and surf the Internet like crazy until I was found with it while curled up next to a radiator and purring happily.

The IPhone version of the feather toy will be the best option, because I will draw the line if anyone tries to restrict my diet by 50% and limit it to low-fat foods.  I would probably cry all night.